lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
 I have to get up out of the warm blanket and go fetch some kitty food from Menard's. I just don't want to. Did I mention that my blanket it electric? And i had to squeeze my car into a parking space halfway up the block?  

Just another five minutes, then I'll get up.

So, what do I have to report? The most my family did for Valentine's Day was exchange a card or two. Mason had robotics until almost 5:30 pm, which meant I had time to start our "fake" naan recipe.  So, we had a favorite meal, something we call "Indian Butter Chicken" (because that might be what it's called on the box that contains the sauce I make), rice, and naan.  Then, because Mason is a teenager, somewhere around 7:30 pm, he says, "Uh... so, I'm supposed to bring some ingredients to Chinese tomorrow, because we're making dumplings again."  But AT LEAST he remembered to bring them with him this morning. The night before, he'd stayed up late to do some art-type project for AP Human Geology and then promptly forgot it at home. Luckily, I could text him a picture of it, so his teacher would know that it was, in fact, done on time, even if it didn't make it in on time.  

Because today is payday, we're hoping to all go out to Tavern on Grand tonight for fish.  Mason has to be at robotics again, because the wrap day (or whatever they call the day that they have to shrink wrap their robot) is coming up early next week. But, Shawn and I are thinking about hitting Roseville Library to browse the shelves and hang out until he's ready to join us.  When you think about it, that's pretty romantic. Looking for books together at the library?  HOT, am I right???

Also, I have to laugh at myself. You know how I've ALWAYS claimed that the reason I've been unable to write is because I can't write unless I have a contract?  THIS APPEARS TO _ACTUALLY_ BE TRUE, much to my chagrin.  I have an apocalypse story due the first of April, and, yesterday, I wrote almost 2,000 words on it. What the hell, brain. What the H.E.L.L.

One of my pen pals died. I recently acquired a pen pal in Duluth. Normally, I don't like to have pen pals that I don't know that close. (Like, you live in Minneapolis and we've met or we're on social media together and you want to be my pen pal? SURE!) However, this woman took Friend Books. Friendship Books are a very weird aspect of the pen pal subculture, that are fascinating, but also a burden. I've written about what they are here before, but a quick look at Wikipedia might help you understand how they work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendship_book The point is, I started conversing with this person, mostly so that I had someone to whom I could pass on Friendship Books when I got a bunch of them from the two other pen pals who tend to pass them on to me.  The other day, I got a letter from her daughter. This woman had some 60 pen pals by her own reckoning, but so that might explain the brevity of this note. But, it simply said, "I know you exchanged letters with my mom. I'm sorry to tell you that she and a friend were involved in a head-on collision and died instantly."

But I can't find any information about it. No obit was included. I mean, there's no reason not to believe this, but, wow, what a shock.

Anyway, my eldest cat is staring at me. I'd better get up and fetch her food from the store or she will guilt me wit that amber-eyed stare of hers.
lydamorehouse: (Mistaken)
 I'm going to have to keep this fairly short as I need to head out early to pick-up Mason from his job because 1) he texted to say they might be let out five or ten minutes early and 2) we're out of canned cat food AGAIN.

I swear now that we're down to three cats (two of which are elderly--technically, "geriatric,") we go through more food than ever.  

There was an interesting discussion on someone's FB feel about 'true' morning larks, vs. whatever you call the people for whom the 9 to 5 world is designed to accommodate.  This person noted that night owls like to complain that the world is built around larks, but it really isn't. I mean, yes, me much more than them, if only because being to work at 9 am isn't a hardship for me.  BUT, I naturally wake up around 6 am (our alarm is set for 5:30 am, though, because of Mason's early start time of 7:20 am.)  Waiting for stores to open feels like half of what I do as a lark.  Science fiction conventions are even worse for me, because most of the "action" starts well-after I'm ready to head to bed. People always say to me, "Well, just stay up late and sleep in!" Thing about being a lark? Sleeping in, for me, is 7 am. I often _can't_ go back to sleep, no matter how late I was out the night before.  

Still, I wouldn't trade. Mornings are still my favorite time to sit and write and get things done. It's when I have the most energy and feel most creative.

My family just sits in bleary-eyed silence while I yammer on about everything on our morning drive into school. This, it should be noted, is me BEFORE I've had coffee.

Anyway, you may have noticed that I'm not reporting my spell-of-the day progress. I may start up again, but I just hit a wall with Llewellyn when I got to the "Youthful Appearance" spell for the new moon. Y'all _know_ what the new moon is, right? It's a night with basically no moonlight.  The moon is virtually invisible to the unaided eye.  This spell wanted me to go outside with a mirror to "catch the new moon's light." You know, okay, for an anti-aging spell, I suppose I could catch some "anti-"light, but then the author wanted me to also imagine my face "being flooded with moonlight."

THERE ISN'T ANY MOONLIGHT ON NEW MOON. NONE. ZERO. NADA.

Yes, yes, the moon is still there, but the point of the dark moon is that it's dark! Invisible! 

So, I just set the book aside and haven't much felt like going back to it yet. I think I will, if only because having a project like this amuses me, but seriously.... wtf, Llewellyn?

Snow Selfie

Feb. 7th, 2019 09:14 am
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
At some point today, I have to leave this warm, snuggly house and go and get Inky's cremains. They called yesterday and said that he'd come back. 

It's really coming down out there.

Mason has a debate tournament this afternoon that he's judging over in Minneapolis. As a judge, he's a volunteer, so I have to transport him there and back again.  Given how quickly the inches accumulated already this morning, I'm not looking forward to trying to race him across town at 3:00 for a 3:30 meet.  I told him to see if he can't get the cell number of someone at the competition, just in case we run late.

My Broad Universe mentee and I had an interesting conversation last night about iGen, Mason's generation.

She's doing some kind of coursework or other that has her considering the various "personalities" of the generation and she said that iGen is supposed to be go-getters, but her experience showed them to be fairly incapable of things once considered standard, like addressing an envelope or keeping a budget.  She's very likely right about those last things. We've had to work overtime to make sure Mason has gotten skills that I KNOW I was taught in school, like how to write a check and read/write cursive. (I blame standardized testing, not this generation or its teachers, however.) At any rate, I noted that Mason absolutely fits the "stereotype" of a self-starter. I never even heard that he'd signed himself up to be a volunteer debate judge until yesterday when he asked for transportation to the meet.  Mason is required as a gifted an talented student to have volunteer hours and he found some in an area he ADORES. I told her, too, how he found himself a paying job that continues to be a perfect fit and the various times that we've found out, after the fact, that there was a scheduling snafu with his coursework that Mason just took care of--often in fairly brilliant and innovative ways, like how he finagled a TA position in English as ungraded coursework.

Obviously, Mason may be atypical. He certainly does prefer his video games over a lot of other activities--but again, I don't see this as a problem. From what I can tell, Mason has found himself a good community. They are all GLBT+/queer kids and, while I hear some trash talk in his comm, it seems very good-natured and not the kind of toxic stuff parents of gamers have to have CONSTANT VIGILANCE about. He's got himself on a team that plays in an amateur Overwatch league and it 'sparks joy' for him, clearly. So, I mean, sure, kids these days and their E-lect-TRON-ics, but I think we are all better served when we consider how such tools are being used by the generation that owns them.

Whelp, there's the call. They've cancelled afternoon activities for SPPS (Saint Paul Public Schools). I texted Mason to have him double-check that that includes his tournament, but I suspect it will.

Now we just need &!*%ing St. Paul to call a snow emergency so they will plow the &!*%ing streets.

My street is nearly impassable. WEIRDLY, where the rich people live, Summit Avenue appears to have been plowed curb to curb. It's almost like there's a socio-economic division in how the city choses to clear its streets. $10 says Highland Park is plowed, too.

But, so, the whole mentee thing via Broad Universe is going well, I think. We've done a bunch of checking in. She seems pleased with my level of critique (which can be intense and daunting) and as a mentor, I feel like my job is offer routes, but, ultimately, to go where she wants. Speaking of volunteering, it's been an interesting gig so far. 

Huh, apparently I just have to wait long enough... now St. Paul has finally called a snow emergency. Yay!

A friend of mine in Canada and I were trading selfies, and, while I normally don't post selfies, I thought this one perfectly captured my resting MURDER face in response to this weather....

me, looking decidedly murderous, and a snow covered tree behind me

I should probably go out into this mess to make sure we have something for dinner tonight, in fact. 

*sigh*
lydamorehouse: (cap and flag)
 ... to try to write about mundane things after Inky's death, but life goes on, I suppose.  

Shawn ended up doing a ton of research into "elderly" cats and discovered that Deliah, who is 16, and Ms. Piggy, who is 18, are considered BEYOND elderly and into geriatric. You can kind of see it on Ms. Piggy, she's been cranky and stiff for some time now, but Deliah? She still acts like a kitten!

Shawn sent me a lot of the articles she'd read and it was comforting to read that we're doing everything right by our older cats. It's absolutely correct to be feeding on demand (small amounts, often,) and looking for foods high in protein and fat.  Of course, this is doing NO GOOD for our fatty orange boy, Buttercup. But at this point, I'm very much looking at our cats and saying "WHATEVER YOU WANT, MY PRECIOUS BABIES."

Today is Imbolc, but my family is going to celebrate tomorrow. Normally, in our tradition, we dedicate ourselves to work with a particular deity for a year. No one in this household has had he wherewithal to do the requisite research, so our plan is to make something yummy for breakfast (I'm thinking cinnamon buns) and spend a little time as a family planning out some of the rituals we all want to do together.  That seems 'close enough' to the spirit of the holiday for us right now.

I made some piroshki for dinner tonight at the urging of my family.  

piroshki on a plate

This is a recipe that Shawn got from her "Recipes North Dakota" FB group. Shawn has the best FB groups. She's in "Liberal Preppers," "Recipes of North Dakota," "Simple Vintage and Homemaking," "Stocking our Shelves," and "Weird Thrift Store Finds."  All my FB groups make me vaguely annoyed, and meanwhile, she's showing me pictures of strange things found at Good Will. To be fair, Shawn spends a LOT of time curating her feed. She has a modest number of friends that she follows and she is very fast with the hide, snooze, block, and unfriend buttons. Meanwhile, I friend anyone. Part of that is because: writer.  I never know who is following me because they've read my books and they just want to know what might be coming out next.

Mason had work today at KAYSC. He said they had an open discussion about various projects they're considering undertaking. It sounded very much like baby's first meeting. He came home and bonded with Shawn about various buzzwords, "fostering synergy" and such like. 

He's now playing D&D on Discord with a bunch of people he's in an amateur Overwatch league team with. I'm so glad he found his people. I have no idea who I'd be if the internet had existed when I was his age.

Otherwise, I spent part of my day going through old DW journal entries updating my tag set. It started because Shawn and I had one of those arguments couple have about the timing of various things in our collective memory. Did this thing happen first, or that other thing? Both of us were SO SURE we were right, and I knew I'd blogged about the events in question.  BUT, it took me forever to figure out how to track down the whole story because I'd been really sloppy with my tagging. So, I spent an hour or so reading through the old entries from 2011 and making the tags consistent.  

It was really funny to watch my comments numbers drop precipitously after I became a Bleach fan.

Ah, speaking of finding one's tribe, if only I'd known about Tumblr back then (or whatever other fan communities existed.)  

Otherwise, it was a quiet day. I've been a bit more spotty with my Spell-a-Day, but I did manage yesterday's. Not much to report, however, just a renewal spell/meditation. 
lydamorehouse: (cranky aizen)
 Last night, completely unexpectedly, we had to say good-bye to Inky.

Big, old black cat on a comfy chair

I'd noticed he was kind of poking at his food and water, but he is our quiet, retiring boy, so, while I was worried, it didn't seem dire. Until yesterday. He was hiding more than usual and seemed to be limping a little. After how fast we lost Ball, I thought: nope, get him in right now.  So, rather than wait for an appointment, I took him to the emergency veterinary last night around 6 pm. 

By 9 o'clock, he was gone.

I don't know what the f*ck is happening with this house, but it needs to stop. I can't take this. 

Doctors say it was a fast-moving cancer, a lymphoma or pancreatic. What the actual hell. How did this happen so fast that we never saw it coming? Doctor assured me that some cancers are like that and that cats are terrible about letting you know when they're ill--moreover, it probably ripped through him in no more than a couple of weeks.

Just like Ball.

I looked at her and said, "Okay, but you're sure this isn't something contagious? Because I can not." She told me there was nothing like that in cats. (I mean, there is Feline Leukemia, but they've all been tested and no one goes outside...)

We have sat down with our remaining three cats and explained to them that they are simply NOT ALLOWED to get sick.

Yesterday, we also found a bird frozen at our bird feeder. She may have gotten her head stuck in the feeding tube, or... who knows, but she was hanging there, dead, and it was awful, and so f*ck right off, everything is awful, and I am done with dealing with death, and so NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO GET SICK, Y'ALL TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES.

And, especially: JANUARY, GO HOME. YOU'RE THE WORST. I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN FOR ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR. GOT THAT???

I could not be happier that we have started February.  February is time for renewal. We're going to renew our house blessing and celebrate the renewing spirit of Imbolc, because we're done with this bullsh*t now, k?

Here's a picture of Inky (the black one) and Buttercup (orange/sandy) playing together on the iPad in a rare moment of harmony. Buttercup was always very much "Notice me, sempai!" about Inky, but Inky never much wanted much to do with the "new kid" so this was a photographically significant moment.

Inky and Buttercup playing with the iPad

Gucci, gucci Inky. You were a good cat.

Hump Day!

Jan. 16th, 2019 08:08 am
lydamorehouse: (Mistaken)
I have a few days that I need to catch y'all up on.

Let's see... Monday. What did I do on Monday? I know I did a lot of household chores, because Monday is both garbage day and recycling for our alley. We amass a LOT of recycling. I also went to the pet store again. Since Ms Ball's illness, the rest of the cats got very used to the idea that wet food might be available to them at all sorts of hours. Plus, as I'm sure many of you recall, I was trying ANYTHING I thought she might eat a lot of. So now the rest of the cats are very, "What is this, hooman? This is not the good gravy stuff???" Thus, I bought a bunch of the good gravy stuff as well as some other cans of things that everyone seemed to enjoy, because why not? At this point, I look at my fat cats and think, "GOOD. There will be lots of time to figure out what's wrong before you waste away, should disease hit!"

So my memory of Monday = errands and housework.

Yesterday was far more pleasant. Even though Shawn had a migraine and ended up coming home early, the day started and ended well. As a family, we all go out to bagels on Tuesday mornings. At some point, I made a comment that I felt that Tuesday were worse than Mondays, because everyone EXPECTS Monday to suck, as it is the first day back to work after a weekend. But, Tuesdays are like stealth Mondays. They're too early in the week to start having happy thoughts about how soon it will be the weekend again, and so they're really like Monday--only without any sympathy. We decided that in the spirit of this, Tuesdays would be a day we would treat ourselves because Tuesdays are hard, too, but no one is going to say, "Ah, yeah, man, TUESDAYS, am I right?"

Then, after picking Shawn back up and bringing her home early, I went to visit my friend [personal profile] naomikritzer at her place. I was able to stay a little later than usual because Mason is in full-swing of robotics, but we had also all earlier agreed that since it was payday, we would go out to Indian at our favorite place: Taste of India in Maplewood. Taste of India is one of those places that a surprising number of people we KNOW frequent. In the past, we've run into our friends the Murphys and the Fox-Manns. This time, it was just us, but it was also just what the doctor ordered.

With Ms. Ball's illness and death putting a literal pall over our holiday vacation, my family and I have been in desperate need of quality family time. I'm fortunate, in that my little nuclear family all really love each other and enjoy each other's company EVEN OUR TEENAGE SON. Which, is kind of miraculous, I've been told. So, dinner was perfect. We all got comfort foods and caught up on life, the universe, and everything in a much need fashion.

Then, when we got home last night, Mason and I played Smash for a half hour or so. I have to report that this button-masher is starting to learn a few combos. I have one character "Cloud," that I can consistently remember how to use. This is starting to excite Mason, as it means that he has a player in the house who isn't a complete push over. He still wins every time, but I'm making him have to fight for it a little.

In other news, Mason has been having a lot of fun watching various colleges start to take notice of his early PSAT scores. Mason took the test early, as practice here in 10th grade, and did extremely well. Every day, after school Mason will update us on the various folks that have started spamming him with "hey, when you get serious about university, don't forget we exist!" emails. The other fun thing he got was an invitation to apply to a summer program at Yale. It's Yale Young Global Studies Program. There is a 20 page application that includes financial aid (because holy moley is this thing EXPENSIVE.) But, we figure we should give it a try, even though the deadline is nipping at our heels already (Feb. 6.) Because, why not? Nothing ventured, as they say. Given how many people apply, it's probably a long shot at any rate.

It's really f*cking cool spam, though, you have to agree, neh?

I also spent a good part of yesterday starting to plan for Mason's PSEO (post-secondary education opportunities) next year. Washington Technology Magnet is OUT of math for our child. So, he's going to have to continue on at university (of some sort, though we are crossing fingers to get into the University of MN's program.) To that end, we are planning on attending the very first informational meeting on Feb. 18, I think it is. (It's on the calendar). I also went ahead and booked a tour of the Science and Engineering department, because, again, why not? But, there are a lot of forms to figure out and things to do for that, too--though, much like with the Yale thing above, my job is not to apply, but to heard our smol into applying for himself.

Still a full time job, if you ask me.

I also spent a lot of time on Monday and yesterday trying to get some hours set for my library job. I tried to pick up an extra shift this week, but someone got to Shoreview before I could nab it. Alas. At least I got my Feb. schedule to my boss, who was able to give me some shifts for next months. Yay.

Luckily, I don't need to pick up too many shifts. This month got covered by a surprise royalty check that was mid-triple digits, the likes of which I haven't seen in a long, long time. (Audible.com, I LOVE YOU.) Next month, my Loft teaching will carry us, too, although I won't see that money until the work is done and dusted, so not until March or April.

I did manage to do all my spell work. I will post under-the-cut below, but I do want to share the one funny observation: I thought for sure that when these spells started calling for various herbs and oils, I would have to write some scathing commentary about how NO ONE HAS THIS STUFF JUST LYING AROUND. And, yet, last night when I was shaking my head thinking, "Oh, right, like I'm going to have camomile flower heads sitting on my shelf," there, in our witchy cabinet, was a vial of camomile flowers that I harvested several years ago, dried, and carefully preserved. I have actually yet to be stumped!

To be fair, I did have to do a couple of substitutions. A spell below called for hyssop, which I didn't have, but lavender is a common substitution, and I have several jars of lavender (to be fair, we grow it and harvest it ourselves, just like we had with the camomile.) I had to make my own dragon's blood oil, but I actually HAVE dragon's blood resin in my cabinet, so there is that.

My witches' pantry is actually surprisingly well stocked!

Spell-a-Day project (Jan. 13) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 14) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 15) )
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
The phone rang just now and it was our old vet, Dr. Holly.

We stopped going to All Paws some time ago for various reasons, including issues of money, but when the Lap of Love people asked us if we had vets that should be informed, we told them to let both Como *and* All Paws know, since it seemed right. All Paws had seen Ball for years before we switched.

I can't get over that she called, but Dr. Holly is just that good, just that caring. She was devastated by our loss and was desperate to know what had happened. It was hard to have to tell her that we ultimately had NO IDEA what killed Ms. Ball in the end. I could tell that she was trying very hard not to be incensed on our behalf that Como wasted time with a mistaken first diagnosis. I had to reassure her that this was a mystery that even Dr. Ralph had no clue about when he did the ultrasound, and, given that we were racing against time with Ball's weight loss, Como did the best they could.

Which I really do believe.

Even though she never pressured me to say anything about it, I told her that we absolutely would have brought Ball to her, but she's basically become unavailable. She works one day a week, starting at 3 pm, and then ONE Saturday a month. Otherwise she exclusively does animal surgery and dentistry. My problems were with the other main doctor there (and I couldn't tell Holly that, as the other doctor is not only her colleague, but her WIFE.) We needed someone who could see Ball ASAP, someone who wasn't half way across the metro area. St. Louis Park isn't the end of the world, but we were ALWAYS fighting highway traffic, even during the best of times. I feel badly about this, because everyone in this family secretly believes that Dr. Holly would have moved heaven and earth to find out what was wrong with Ms. Ball.

I need to remind myself that Dr. Holly saw all our previous cats, and none of them lived any longer than our current eldest cat, Ms. Piggy, who is easily closing on 18. Also, sometimes these things just hit like a storm and there's nothing to be done.

I'm glad she called, though. She's such a good person. Shawn and I did some calculations and we'd been seeing Dr. Holly exclusively for 29 years. Almost as long as we've been together, Shawn and I. (Shawn and I met in 1985; we started seeing Dr. Holly with our first cat, Artemis, in 1990.)

Other than that, it was a low-key Tuesday. [personal profile] naomikritzer came over for lunch and I fed her hot dish (as provided by the Randalls.) I'm always impressed by the range of conversation Naomi and I can have--everything from professional jealousy, mastectomies and reconstructive surgery, to Star Wars movies. I guess that's what it's like with a good friend.

The only other thing that's worth reporting is that Mason's PSAT scores (he took a practice practice test, as it were, in 10th grade) went public and now a bunch of colleges are emailing him, letting him know that, you know, when the time comes, they'd sure like to have him. That's fairly gratifying. I feel proud, even though the only thing I did was help prod Mason to prod his school into letting him take the test early.

So that's cool.

Spell-a-Day (Jan. 8) )
lydamorehouse: (Default)
The Lap of Love folks have their own memorial page for pets and so I decided to add Ms. Ball. If you'd like to see a bit more about how Ball got her name and came to us, there's a short bit of a story about her under the "about" tab: www.lapoflove.com/pet-memorial.aspx. You are welcome to leave a "candle" there, if you like. (It all appears to be free.)

But, there's no need to make a special effort. I have very much appreciated all the comments left here for her and in support of our family during this horrible time.

In other news, because life goes on, I've decided to take on a rather unusual project for the next year. One of my Solstice gifts was Llewellyn's Witches' Spell-a-Day Almanac. Even though I'm getting a late start, I thought I would attempt to do each daily spell for the rest of the year. I will report on them here, probably a bit like I did with Ms. Ball's update, under a cut, in case my pagan practices aren't terribly interesting to you. But, nearly every year I vow to be "more witchy" and this seemed like a fun project to undertake. Plus, I have long followed the Tarot for Yourself practice of figuring out my personal "year" card, and, by chance, this year I have Temperance.


Aquarian Deck:Temperance


Which, according to Greer (my Tarot book author) means when applied to the year: "Developing health and haling practices, testing and trying out your beliefs and philosophy, creative combinations." (emphasis mine.) Seems like a good year, then, to try something like this.

I should probably put out there, before I begin this, that I'm very much aware that Llewellyn is in the BUSINESS of magic, and so, I will likely be critiquing some of these spells based on how much their ingredients might cost a newbie who might think they need the exact oils, herbs, soaps, etc., and will be offering cheaper alternatives (or practices that involve buying NOTHING.) I have, myself, been practicing witchcraft since the early 1990s, so I will be taking a lot of these spells with the proverbial grain of salt. If there are ones that I feel are ill-advised I will post about why I think so and see if the previous years' almanacs have alternatives that might work better.

But, even so, there's no harm in trying a project like this. I think it will be a fun away to be more mindful in my practice.Test out my beliefs, think about my philosophy. These are good things.

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 6) )

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 7) )
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
Ball in a box

Details about Ball's passing... )

Ball being a ball

Weird (interesting) stuff that happened afterwards... )

cat on a chair

Gucci, gucci. We will miss you Ms. Ball, our mouser extraordinaire.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
A friend of mine pointed out that she's been anxiously awaiting cat news, so I suppose I should catch you all up on it.

You may not want to read this, the news is grim and potentially disturbing... )

So, that sucks.

Yesterday, I skipped being with my usual ladies for our Friday writing gathering to stay home to be with Ball. I let her sleep in my arms while I watched a sappy Japanese soap opera called Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light. Its a Netflix original about a young man who tries to reconnect with his dad through video gaming. I ended up reviewing it on MangaKast, if you're interested in reading my take on it.

Mason is currently at the robotics kick-off. (He's the one in front second from the right with the gray hoodie and dorky smile.)

robotics brainstorming

He had to chose between work and robotics today, so that was tough--especially since work was team kick-off. So it was robotics first day or first day with his new work team. He handled the choice well (doing all the due diligence about informing his team leader, etc.) and I think, ultimately, this was the right pick. Work will be there. Robotics season is temporary.  Both are worthy STEM projects, so....

I should try to eat lunch.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
This morning as my family piled into the car to head off to work and school, we discovered we'd been robbed. Someone had gotten into our car and rifled through the glovebox and the various compartments. They absconded with my adorable kitty change purse and about $1.50 in loose coins, most of them pennies.

I hope that $1.50 was useful.

Though I want my change purse back, you b*st*rds, That was a Solstice gift!

If you're wondering if we also suffered a broken window, we didn't. I have a 50/50 chance of remembering to lock the car doors and last night was apparently one of the times that I forgot. I should know better, as this has happened to us numerous times before. But, there's just so little to steal.. I mean, seriously, the cute little zip purse was probably worth more (to me, anyway,) than the collection of odd change within it.

We have to park outside, on the street, because, though we TECHNICALLY have a garage, it's so old that it still has "barn" doors. Currently, it's function is as junk storage/a potting shed.

I used to feel weird to see all of our stuff tossed around the front seat, knowing some stranger sat in our car trying to find something useful, but it's happened enough that now I just feel vaguely annoyed and sort of sad for an individual who is so desperate that a $1.50 makes it worth the effort/chance of being caught. Seriously, whoever you are, you missed the big payload on New Year's Eve. There was probably a whole two or three dollars in dimes just sitting on the steps outside of our house. Think of what you could have bought for three dollars! A whole Slim Jim! (maybe.)

This is why this is sad to me. I hope the other cars this person rifled through last night actually netted them enough money to buy some French fries at Wendy's, if that's what they needed.

Speaking of the car, it's currently at the mechanics. Our car's dash has been flashing an oil change warning for over a week now, and yesterday I called to see if our usual place, Dave's, had any time this week to slide us in. They told me that 8:30 am today would work, which is why I am writing to you all from the Dunn Brother's Coffeeshop in Roseville, which is kitty corner from the auto repair place (and attached to the Roseville library).

With all the vet bills, I really didn't want to have to take care of the car, but it's our only car and if it stops working with the kitty in it on the way to the emergency clinic... that would be more than bad. An oil change SHOULDN'T break the bank, either. It's just a hassle and it means I'm away from home and Ms. Ball for however long it takes.

Continued kitty saga for those following along at home... )
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
All I know is that it's 2019. I have no actual idea what day of the week it is. Wednesday is my best guess.

My family all went back to school and work. I stayed home with kitty, who is still with us, but it's unclear how long (more under the cut at the end.) I was extremely grateful when [personal profile] naomikritzer reached out to offer to bring lunch and chat. She brought some potato/leek soup that was left over from a New Year's Eve party that she'd gone to. I supplied some day-old French bread, and she also brought a spinach and cheese stuffed naan that needed to be rescued from a freezer that apparently stopped freezing and used up. All and all a lovely meal, made more lovely by the chance to chat with a dear friend about anything OTHER than a sick cat for several hours.

It is also "What Are You Reading" Wednesday, and I can report that I read another short story last night. "Sour Milk Girls" by Erin Roberts which I kind of hated. There's no hard and fast rule that stories have to have a happy ending to be satisfying. Lots of people will tell you that they sometimes feel that grim endings are more realistic, but what "Sour Milk Girls" felt like to me was "mean girls being mean, the end." There was a clever sort of word-building going on, but one of the main plot points (memories being wiped) was never explained in context of the world. What was the point of it? What did the people doing the wiping (institutionally, and then, later, individually) get out of it? What was the benefit? And, then it was just "ha, ha, we were mean."

Or, so it seemed to me.

Well, I will keep hunting. I have five slots I can fill in my nominations for the Nebula, and I only have three filled so far. There are lots and lots of eligible short stories out there.

I'm also revisiting Starhawk's Truth or Dare.; Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, which is a book I tried to read when it came out in the late 1980s. I'm not sure how this type of book bills itself. It's not non-fiction, though it tries hard to be, with footnoted research and a lot of academic language. It's kind of like creative nonfiction, maybe? With a dash of memoir and a lot of poetry? Starhawk (a native St. Paulie!) is one of those people that a lot of pagans my age read back in the day. She's probably best known for Spiral Dance, which is a bit more of a how-to. Possibly my revisiting of Starhawk should have started there, because I'm finding Truth or Dare tough going. Reading it has made me think about how little has changed and how many revolutions are still needed.

When I need something lighter (or to pass the time at the vet's office), I've been SLOWLY making my way through the first Longmire book, The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. Shawn and I really enjoyed watching "Longmire," and Shawn found a copy of this at on the library friends bookstore's free shelf.

Cat update (not good) )
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
New Year's day is the day we take down our Christmas/Yule tree and pack away the decorations.

This year is no exception. Though we did start in on the process a little bit yesterday, since we knew any big undertaking all at once would be too much for us. Normally, I find this process a little sad and emptying, but, this time, it restored a small sense of order.

Partly because we often use our downstairs bathroom as a place to store all the boxes and bins that the Yule stuff comes out of. Normally, this is a temporary hassle that is tolerable and makes more sense than dragging everything back up to the attic, only to drag it all down and back up again in a matter of weeks. However, with the very much needed addition of an emergency downstairs litter box, it was impossible to keep the floor clean of litter bits and everything just felt chaotic any time I needed to change the box or even just didn't want to bother to go upstairs to do my own bathrooming.

The decoration bins are now staged to migrate upstairs over the next day or two and then be tucked back into their corner in the attic. The rocking chair is off the porch and back in its spot as the guest chair. It was never MEANT to only belong to guests, but... well, funny story about that:

I have a friend Theo, who, when they were buying a house for themselves, got really into the theory of interior decorating. They read a book that talked a lot about what your furniture and style choices say about you and your family's values. They took one look around our cozy little living room, the three overstuffed chairs pointed towards each other in an intimate circle, and the weird, almost out of place rocker and nodded and said, "This house is house for three."

And they are absolutely right.

We happily entertain others, but in the end of the day, this house is a house for three. Possibly three HOBBITS, given the amount of food around the house. We have little stacks of books at our feet and blankets (and snoozing cats) everywhere. The house often smells of something baking.

In fact, I took bread out of the oven only a few minutes ago. I have a French bread recipe I always make as an accompaniment to our traditional wild rice soup for New Year's day. Wild rice soup became the tradition because the recipe we have--from my late stepbrother Mark--calls for BOTH turkey and ham, and we always have leftovers of each in the freezer from the holidays.

We have a pagan ritual we do every morning of the new year, too. Last night, some time before midnight, we find a dime minted in the current year and add it to our collection of dimes that are wrapped in a gold silk square. We put this symbolic "silver and gold" outside of our house and then, in the morning, we bring it in over the threshold to symbolize the act of bringing fortune to us in the new year. This has been our good luck tradition for years (we could probably count the years, given the number of dimes. At least 20, at a guess. I can't remember if we were doing this when we lived in Uptown before we bought this house or not.)

Do you have something personal like that, something to bring you luck in the new year?

I have to say, this is the first year that I've even heard of the whole "rabbit, rabbit" thing. But, I had two FB friends discussing it this morning. Despite my surname, I'm clearly not British (or American?) enough for this whole tradition.

Quick cat update for those interested... )
lydamorehouse: fish obsession (makoto)
ms. ball in better days

This is an old picture of Ms. Ball hiding out in the fabric basket that Shawn uses for her rag rugs. I have more recent pics of her, but mostly they're of her sleeping and I wanted folks to see her awake (albeit sleepy.)

As my subject today says: knock on wood, it's been a quiet day.

Last night around 2 am, there was much crying again. It really did NOT seem as if the meds were helping and, in fact, they seemed almost as if they were making things worse. That 2 am Hell PoopTM was... hellacious and so MUCH that I just sort of broke. I ended up staying awake from about 2 am until 4 am, anxiously cleaning the house (people who know me, know how BAD things have to be for me to find comfort in any kind of housework.)

I woke up to give her her meds and then went for another run to PetCo, because yesterday we found a great soupy food that she seemed to really, really love. So, I picked up more of those and more cans labeled "gravy lover." A side note about PetCo? I think I know why I stopped going there regularly. It's literally impossible to tell when they will be open. What do you mean, Lyda? Surely, their hours are posted on their website. Oh, yes, my friends, there are hours posted there, but THREE DAYS IN A ROW, THEY'VE BEEN WRONG. Yes, I am looking at the store that matched my location. It's just... I swear to god they post their hours this way: "Oh, Lyda wants to be here at 8 am and our website says we'll be open then, let's open at 9 am! Now it's Sunday and she's double checked that you'll be open at 9 am? HA! We will open at 10!" I SWEAR TO GOD THIS IS PERSONAL AND THEY HATE ME.

If I had remembered to bring my phone with me, I would have taken a picture of the hours posted on the door, because those seem to actually be accurate.

Anyway, I digress.

After much sobbing last night, I was steeled for another rough day.

Yet... so far, so good. We had one Hell PoopTM around noon, but nothing since. I am moderately hopeful that she will make it until some ungodly hour again tonight. Ideally, of course, she'll go even longer, but Murphy's Law predicts somewhere in the middle of the night. Possibly just as I've entered the most restful sleep cycle, because sleep? What's sleep?

However, I've been able to relax enough today to make not only dinner, but lunch, too.  If things proceed like this, our household may be back to its regularly scheduled three squares a day.  

Wacky, right? 

Who knows, if things continue this way I might actually be able to only mention the cat's health in passing and actually write about other things again.
lydamorehouse: (temporary incoherent rage)
I started a fight on the internet today.

This, my children, is never advisable. To be fair, I stand by my impulse (if not some of my exact words). But, as a consequence, I spent a lot of today being really annoyed by people I only barely know in real life, and... I'm pretty sure that, thanks to a literal case of mistaken identity, my FB "footprint" has changed in some people's minds. Now, because there was a PM resolution (and apology) that didn't appear in public, all that remains of the fight is weird and disjointed and potentially makes me look like someone who is well-known in other venues as an absolute horrible VILLAIN.

Thanks, internet.

I guess it served to distract me from our sick kitty, but I can't say that, in the end, I even ever managed to MAKE MY POINT.

Which is: don't be a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) in front of me, end of story.

OMFG.

Sick kitty remains sick, so read only if you want the continued updates )

I think I will get up now and make dinner for my family and maybe write some long form, snail mail letters.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Today, despite waking up to freezing rain, I took Shawn into work this morning, got myself some coffee, and made another quick run to PetCo for a bunch of cat food for Ms. Ball.

Friday is normally the day that I go meet my writing friends at Claddaugh Coffee. It was looking like it might get cancelled, since Eleanor is out of town and [personal profile] pegkerr was visiting family. But, [personal profile] naomikritzer and I decided to meet, anyway. I really, really needed to get out of the house and think about something OTHER than Ms. Ball and Mason is perfectly capable of looking after her while I was out for a couple hours. (I will give y'all an update under the cut, below.)

Hanging out with Naomi bolstered me enough that I was able to make a normal dinner for my family when I came home--something I really had NOT been up to for the last few days. To be fair, I made a staple: Indian chicken (sauce from a box), rice, and homemade (fake) naan. And, I fell asleep in my chair while waiting for the naan to rise. But, getting everyone to the dinner table felt like a real accomplishment.

I've been thinking ahead to the new year and one of the things I really want to get back to is my regular reading habit. It feels very weird not to have read much over the past few months. If any of you have suggestions for books, I'd love to hear them. Currently, I'm looking for new-ish authors (preferably PoCs, queer/trans folks, and/or women) who write science fiction/fantasy. I'm fairly well read in the last few years' SF/F award winners, as I challenged myself to read those a couple of years ago. But, even if you have something you love that doesn't seem like it would fit that, I'd still love to know what you've been reading and enjoying. There is no genre I won't read. I'm currently reading a Western, so, seriously, offer up anything! I'd even be up for a good non-fiction book.

The only thing my brain has had energy for over the last few days have been novelettes and short stories. I'm a SFWA member (smartest thing I EVER did, career-wise, was buy a lifetime membership) and so I've been prepping to nominate for the Nebula Award. Things I've read so far and enjoyed are:

A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E Harrow

You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can't Help Me by KM Szpara (has a trans character and is #ourvoices)

Cherry Wood Coffin by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Horror)

The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births by José Pablo Iriarte (has a non-binary character)

The Thing About Ghost Stories by Naomi Kritzer

I read several others, including: "The Court Magician" by Sarah Pinsker, which I enjoyed, but which felt like the author had discovered Orson Scot Card's book on writing and particularly the section about "the price of magic" and didn't really have much else for a story. I also read "Mother Tongues" by S Qiouyi Lu, which I liked quite a bit, but it actually HAS to be listened to via the podcast as there are large sections of untranslated Mandarin. I also listened to "Dandelion" by Elly Bangs, which I felt mostly 'meh' about, but that might be because everything was starting up with Ms. Ball about the time reading that one.

There were a number that I started, but gave up on, too.

I haven't read any manga in weeks. I need to get back into that habit, too. But, to be fair on that front, I did participate in Yuletide this year as a pinch hitter, so I was busy reviewing some of my favorites.

Okay... and now for the Ms. Ball update (TMI warning) )
lydamorehouse: fish obsession (makoto)
 To anyone who kept Ms. Ball in their thoughts: IT WORKED. IT F*CKING WORKED.

Technically, Ms. Ball is NOT out of the woods yet. I just got back from the vet and I wrote this to my friend [personal profile] naomikritzer  I am 100% frazzled.  You know our dying cat?  Well, she's gone from "pretty sure it's bladder cancer" to "yeah, or maybe an infection?" To be fair, we finally got to talk to a real expert, an ultrasound guy that I've actually met before, "Dr. Ralph." Dr. Ralph is a hippy nerd who goes around in blue mini cooper and carries his fancy ultrasound equipment on a push cart from vet clinic to vet clinic and he cost us only $300, which is kind of astounding. Anyway, he ruled out OBVIOUS cancer.  What he found was a lot of liquid in her bowels and at first he expected to find an obstruction, but didn't. He looked for carcinoma of all sorts, including bladder and felt pretty confident that even though her lymph nodes were a bit swollen he didn't see any.

So, last night at two am we were crying and looking for in-home euthanasia and now we're like, "This antibiotic is all we need? WTF."


I kind of blame our first doctor. He was very cagey and wouldn't commit to a diagnosis, but the only words we heard more than once were bladder cancer. And, it was in his printed notes.  His bedside manner was... well, okay, the thing I've learned about myself and about my family is that what we like in our medical professionals is ALL THE SCIENCE. We need words. We need people who are comfortable bouncing theories around in front of us or even, more importantly, WITH us. We like running commentary. We REQUIRE details, specifics, and _words._  

Luckily, the second doctor we got connected to on the phone had the science. We met another one today who also worded good.  

We used to have a vet we LOVED out in St. Louis Park, but she's gone into semi-retirement and their clinic is the sort who treats first and then presents you with the bill and our financial situation has changed substantially since I was writing full time and before we had Mason.  So, we can't have a doctor who (true story) says "Oh, I'm just going to take Inky into the back and take a look at this lump under his skin" and then when we're paying the bill discover that the "look" was actually an aspiration, which counts as a procedure and COSTS AND ARM AND A LEG.

Como Park Animal Hospital is the sort of place that comes out with an itemized bill for you to go over before they do ANYTHING, even a routine vaccination.  You can cross things out or ask for them to be delayed or check the box that says "would like to discuss payment plan" because they are in a very urban setting and deal with a much wider swatch of the social-economic spectrum.  

But, we haven't really seen many people at Como Park Animal Hospital and we literally took the first appointment available for Ms. Ball and it happened to be with Dr. No Science.

A crisis is not really when you want to be learning about whether or not you have good chemistry with your vet but OH MY GOD IS IT IMPORTANT.

It was kind of funny, because when I right away suggested that I would much rather have a different doctor take over Ms. Ball's care the entire room started nodding their heads and saying what seemed like a practiced phrase when I hedged a bit and said that I would understand if Dr. No Science wanted to follow this case through, though I would rather he took a secondary role, "Please don't worry about it, it is ENTIRELY up to you." 

Anyway, lesson learned. 

And Ms. Ball is NOT out of the woods. She has lost significant weight and we are still NOT sure what the hell is going on with her.  But... maybe an infection and not IMMINENT DEMISE?

Finger crossed and now I may go collapse in a heap.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
It's been a rough couple of days for Ms. Ball, though she seems to be having a good morning, so far.

Potentially TMI Cat issues under the cut )

Okay, so somewhat brighter news.... Of course, my whole family and I spent much of Christmas day worrying about our cat, but we still did our usual round of Christmas eve/day presents. 

Shawn's family has a tradition of the big meal on Christmas Eve followed by present opening. We have morphed this tradition over the years and now open presents as soon as consensus is reached. This year, with Ball's initial appointment and extremely bad news, we ended up delaying opening presents until 1:00 pm.  

Mason got more D&D books, plus a fantasy series he wanted, the Grishaverse trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. We got him "Luigi's Manson" for the 3-DS and several gaming related gift cards, which he promptly spent on games for the Switch. He had also been covetous of an electric blanket that his girlfriends' family owns, so we bought him one of his own. And, of course, socks. Everyone should get a nice pair of socks for the holidays, IMHO.

Shawn turned out to be a trauma this year. I had ordered the presents I wanted to get her ahead of time--two different earrings from a catalogue that specializes in Native American art.  Unfortunately, because each piece is handcrafted, they almost didn't arrive in time and this causes me to turn into one of those deadbeat spouses who wandered around all the nearby stores that were still open wondering if she would like an air-freshener in the shape of a tree or a tin of sardines, you know? Luckily, I was actually able to find a meaningful gift card (when Mason has robots we often have mini-dates at the Caribou near his school) and a gag present of some cookie cutters in fun shapes (a unicorn! A dragon! Stegosaurs!)  And, then, ON CHRISTMAS EVE AFTERNOON the earrings arrived so I was able to quick add one under the tree--after we'd opened, but, hey, the day wasn't over, AND surprise her with the second one in her stocking (she'd only known that I might be buying one of her two choices.)  SAVED FROM DEADBEAT SPOUSE-ING.

I was too frazzled to make a yeast bread with our ham dinner, but I whipped together some popovers last minute. The ham was good, we had mashed potatoes, wild rice hash, and roasted root veggies for sides.  

Christmas morning is when my family used to open presents, so we always reserve one or two for Mason 'from Santa' (yeah, he's fifteen, but he likes the tradition, so we keep it up.) And, then some time in the middle of the night I fill up stockings with candies and small things--normally this is when everyone gets socks, for instance.

Of course, this was the one time Ball's illness worked to our advantage. I was up checking on her at 2 am, anyway, so I took care of the stockings then. I got up again at quarter to six, because that's when we've scheduled her prednisone dose (6 am + 6 pm).  

Christmas day, as noted under the cut above was a hard day for Ball, so I can't say it was our best ever Christmas. Normally, I look forward to having so many days off with my family. We all get along really well (minus hormonal surges.)  And, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, there are usually lots of board games and eggnog.  Shawn is off yet today, so perhaps we can have a day-after Christmas Christmas celebration.

I set up our altar to Bast and we've been keeping a candle going for Ms. Ball. I hope whatever happens, Bast keeps Ms. Ball safe in Her arms.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
Ms. Ball is sick... and recovery is extremely iffy.

The doctor isn't a hundred percent sure what's wrong with her, but he's worried that it may be bladder cancer.  They did radiographs/ultrasound today and the vet could clearly see that the bladder wall was thickened and lumpy. Combine that with the fact that her weight decline was lightning fast and a urine test showed abnormal amounts of "transitional bladder cells," the prognosis is poor and points quite strongly towards cancer.    

Until we get some more information--radiographs are headed to the University of MN and should be back on Wednesday--the treatment plan is prednisone for anti-inflammatory/cancer inhibition, anti-nausea pills and appetite stimulants.  

But, it's never a good sign when the doctor's notes end with "At this time we can make her feel better with medications."  You don't have to go very far down the internet to find out that transitional cell carcinoma in the bladder is not only fatal, but it's fast-acting.

So, that sucks. Not the news any of us wanted on Christmas Eve.  



lydamorehouse: (Default)
And, I'm waiting for Mason to get dressed so we can take Ms. Ball to the vet. 

The more I've been watching her, the more hopeful that it will end up being her teeth (an expensive dental surgery, perhaps, but a one time and your fixed kind of deal.)  Thing is, she leaves food and seems to struggle to eat some fairly soft treats. But! We'll find out what's up for sure in a matter of hours, with any luck.

In the meantime, I can tell you about Yule/Winter Solstice.

As I said in earlier posts, Shawn took the day off work and Mason turned down offers for D&D. We had a kind of a crazy start to the day, partly because there were a few last minute errands in need of running--and of course with Christmas approaching, everyone and their dog was out shopping.  Mason and I also had another little bickering session, wherein I found out that he rarely feels that talking resolves arguments. I think we came out of the other side of that one, if for no other reason than that we TALKED about it without incriminations, etc.  I tell you. Having a smart, perfectionist kid can be a surprising challenge at times. 

Even though we got over it, this threw a wrench into the festive mood for the day. We decided to remedy it by opening our presents at noon. Normally, as this is a solar holiday, we wait until the sun goes down (which, here in Minnesota can be, like, 5 pm or even earlier, I swear.) Shawn and I made rosettes, which breaks for ima/son bonding over Smash Bros.

Rosettes are tedious, but worth it.

rosettes close-uo

Eventually, we had our traditional feast in front of the Yule log.  We like to order Swiss Colony sausages and cheeses for Yule, so the no one has to cook.  The cats were surprisingly non-disruptive, which is amazing since we usually lay out our spread, picnic-style, on the floor.  Perhaps my ploy to feed everyone beforehand ACTUALLY paid off this time.

Then we opened presents.

Yule is the time for small, inexpensive, meaningful gifts. I bought Shawn a pair of earrings that she asked for, which are made by an artisan who uses pieces of vintage plates to make jewelry.  She had stumbled across a pair in the design of a set she loves and sent me the link. I got Mason an "ugly sweater" with Karl Marx on it that says, "All I want for Christmas... is the means of production." That's meaningful for us, since it's part of the litany of things I say to him every morning when I drop him off for school.  "Okay, love you, son! Smash the patriarchy, seize the means of production, and punch the Nazis!" (Sometimes I add, "But remember punching is assault, so I will go your bail!")  We also got him a Player's Manual for D&D and another shirt that has a line from a silly song he introduced us to, "Seagulls, Stop it Now" by Bad Lip Readers. It's kind of a visual experience, so you have to watch the You Tube video.  Shawn got me a coffee mug from a tarot artist who is making a crow tarot deck that just says "Witch" on it, but has a lovely crow on it. 

We then took a candle outdoors and lit the "bonfire." The candle blew out on our first attempt, so we tried again.  We kept the fire going for a while, but not as long as some years. We brought the flame in and put it in an overnight safe container to keep it going.  It pooped out sometime after midnight.

It's been gray here, ever since. 

Take that for what you will.

Right. Have to grab the cat and go~

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